*Ed. note: This is the third time the TPC readership has been treated to a piece showcasing everybody’s favorite “company man” & man’s man – Tom Ironsides. You may remember his gig flying into Cuba, or possibly the other piece when he was a substitute teacher. This Editor has had the distinct pleasure of reading several more pieces & passages of the Ironsides saga, and folks – it’s really good. Stay tuned for future news. As always – Thx for reading – MB McCart
Author’s note: The following short story is laced with real-world current events, many the news media would rather you not know about. What better way to present them than through the eyes of our favorite spy turned teacher?
Of The Revolutionary Fishing Trip
A Tom Ironsides Story
Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, November 2016, 11:33 PM (local time)…
There’s a benefit to ignoring emails for a while and then slowly scanning through them before engaging any one in particular – a man can see patterns. That was about all Tom could see, his eyes nearly crossed from exhaustion. He sat slumped over his desk, staring at the screen for a few minutes, reading the same lines over and over:
Again, Dr. Ironsides, we are all impressioned with everything you’ve written regarding Pericles’s hypothetical views on the latter-stage United States empire, particularly to diminished military capacity. It was my intention to cite you as an original source. However, I am having difficulty accessing to your paper, at your department site. If there is a better sources available, please do let me no. Oh, please see if you can open the papers here at this (UMB) webpages:
Thank you, kindly, in advance. Please contact me at once if you have an idea or wish to collaborate.
Dr. Donatello Berkely, Ph.D.
Languages, Cultures, and Societies
University of Leeds
Yeah, no. Looks just like the other one from last week … from UCLA? Smells the same too… Tom thought as he considered spamming the missive. Just then, most unexpectedly at that time of the night, his phone rang.
‘Ahoj… dobrý večer…’
‘Tom. Don’t click on that link!’
‘Who in the hell?? Are… Is that you, Freddie?’
‘Yeah, Tom. It’s Fred. Hello, uh, dobro… vector… What time is it over there?’
‘Too late for nanny-state bullshit spying, Kid. And, isn’t it about quitting time for you? If you’re at Langley…’
‘Yeah. I’m at HQ. Gonna be here a while. Spent all day digging at the Puzzle Palace. For emails like the one you’re still looking at.’
‘That you’re also looking at…’
‘Just keeping you safe, big guy.’
‘Can you go ahead and delete that one? I’ve already got a full capture, thanks.’
Tom trash-canned the post. ‘You been looking at my grade book too? I’ve got some really special students this semester. Even if they all fail next week’s exam, they’ll all still pass. Not that I’m expecting anything but straight A’s.’
‘I noted that you respond much faster to emails and texts from female students. That you spend a lot of time looking for parts to firearms that are banned in the EU. Saw you looking at hotels in Milan for Christmas. Price of diesel in Italy. But, no – we’re not really interested in what you…’
‘Then how about not looking at any of my goddamn business, then?! I know phishing junk when I see it. Okay?’
‘Sorry, man, but you’re on the list. Several now. That’s not an ordinary Nigerian Prince you’re dealing with there.’
‘My IIPA coverage expired in the Spring – not that that ever really mattered… Anyway, who are we dealing with? The IRGC?’
‘Yes, actually. They’ve been running this racket for a couple of years now. Just came to our attention last Spring, about the time you went out from under general protection. Hard to get a handle on. A lot’s been compromised.’
‘What? With tech secrets? I can see them targeting MIT or CalTech. Why the hell do they care about Pericles?’
‘Oh. They don’t. You’re right about the techies. Had about 3,000 successful cases of Infil so far. The subject matter isn’t it. Here’s what they… How they operate… You click that link and it pulls up a page that looks like your UMB faculty login – exactly like it. You, sleepy or whatever, figure you were timed out and log in again. And, they…’
‘Have my password, etc.’
‘Bingo! Usually gives them root access to not only your files but anything on the server. Very sophisticated shit. You’re a target, personally, because of … you know, obvious reasons.’
‘Well then, when you’re not spying on me – thanks – ever look at their servers? Maybe pin-point one for a good old JDAM sinking?’
‘You know what we’re doing, asset-wise, Tom. A strike? It’s virtually impossible to pin them down. Routed – on the fly – through a hundred proxies world-wide. The lock on the guy we think sent that last batch of bait ended in London. MI-6 would kind of object to dropping a Mark 84 in Kent.’
‘Dunno. If you hit Mayor Mohammad’s house they might approve…’
‘UK servers are right behind ours, hit-wise. You don’t know what’s been lost. Tehran may have the ability to build a knockoff F-35, or certainly, they know its weaknesses…’
‘Yeah. Sand and fog! Flying at night. Or, in the air! Only plane in history known to PMS. I’d think you’d try to Trojan them the blueprints for sabotage. Just give ‘em a whole plane…’
‘Tom, they may be in deep with some of our hardware controls.’
‘Deep like the Chi-Coms that make the crap? Hey! Polack joke time!’
‘Tom, no, it’s never funny to…’
‘What’s the difference between a Polack and an American?’
‘I mean I could get in trouble just for… The new HR people are always looking for a…’
‘The Polack’s still gonna have a country in twenty years! Ha!’
‘Wait. Was that really an American joke?’
‘Aha. It’s been fun, Kid. Really has. Close to midnite here, and as I don’t really give a flying f…’
‘Three more things, brother. From upstairs. Gimme a few for old time’s sake.’
‘Alright, shoot. I’m waiting on Tina and her little sister to come home anyway.’
‘Oh, I was meaning to ask about you two. Everything going okay? She sounds so nice, everything I’ve heard. One of these days, I’m going to Space-A over for a visit.’
‘Is that one of your three things?? … No, things are great. And, you’re welcome any time. Come to think of it, you’d really like her sister. About your age. Seventeen maybe?’
‘Ha. Ha. Funny, funny, grandpa. Anyway. First thing is… uh. The new Trump people are starting to get prepped here. Nothing major yet, but it’s coming, I think. Someone’s already floated questions about your notes on Steinberg and Kahneman. You remember anything recent about Dr. Pedo?’
‘Recent? Yeah. Last I heard he was crashing on Ben Bernanke’s couch. Tell The Donald to go ask Money Man. Better yet, if y’all got a spare ‘84 handy…’
‘No. He was never at the Bernanke household. Even they don’t take those kinds of risks. Mistakes. But, he has gone missing. Or, traveling or something. You heard about that?’
‘Just now, from you. Maybe he’ll have a nice accident somewhere… No, I have nothing to say about that aside from what’s already on file.’
‘Kay. Had to check. Second thing is… Are you familiar with the nocte lupi?’
‘Not personally, no. I’ve heard a few of them while camping in the hills. Whole packs of them still roam the Tatras, per diem tu nocte.’
‘We wanna know about the ones riding Harleys, Tom.’
‘Everyone needs a hobby…’
‘Yeah. Like your’s is cigars. Traffic camera in Zvolen has you on a street corner, smoking Cubans and talking to three Wolves.’
‘Even the damned street cameras! Is nothing sacred?’
‘None of the four of you seemed to know a common language, but you all sure looked like you were trying to find one…’
‘We were all into the smokes! And, they had some wicked cool bikes. Deutsche, by the way. Why them? They’re nice. Good guys.’
‘Not all of them. Again, are you familiar?’
‘With what I read in the papers. Local chickens are a little panicked. Most people don’t care. They’re into charities, kids’ hospital rides, and The Church. They like Bolivars…’
‘Hey! Brother… shhhhh… so are you.’
‘Russian shock troops on wheels. Putin’s advanced scouts to the Euro Zone … Okay, it was just that one time. Maybe watch out. We ID’d two of them. Odds are, they know who Tom Ironsides is … was.’
‘And, now he’s known as the nice guy who compliments ape-hangers while tobacco-izing the street… I’m gonna shoot those damned cameras out from now on! What’s the last thing?’
‘Ah, shit. I could have guessed. What now?’
‘It may be nothing. Or, it may be that some shadows are drifting out of the dark past. Maybe wafting the Slovak way… And – this is ALL classified – it may be bound up with the IRGC and with Pedo-Berg.’
‘Highly unlikely. Not together. Whatever else they are, the Iranians are hard-liners against child-raping Satanists – at least of that bent.’
‘No. It’s not a direct link. But there is a nexus. X is looking for Y. Y looks for Z. Z sees Tom the Terror smoking with the Russian three-percenters. You need to be on alert. I’m supposed to forward you an official advisement to return to the US, but I know you won’t heed it. Not yet.’
‘Not yet?? You know I’m always on alert…’
Just then, Tom’s semi-conscious alertness informed him someone was walking up the stairs from the alley. The melodious voices of two women echoed through the apartment.
‘Moj krasny dievcata!’ Tom yelled across the rooms. The two beauties ran into his office laughing and babbling. He spoke to Freddie: ‘Hey, man. They’re back! Gonna put you on speaker for a second. Povedat “Hi!” dievcata! – muz z C-I-A…’
‘Som nahý, chlapče!!’ Tina screamed down at the phone while her sister giggled loudly.
‘Impregnovať ma! Ak nie krívat!’ Her sister yelled. The Euro trio laughed it up as Freddie sat stunned in Virginia.
‘Uh. Hello… Dolby Vermont… Ladies…’ He stuttered. ‘What did they say??’
Tom picked up again. ‘Said you sound real cute… Okay. Anything else Earth-shattering that I need to not care about? Got a party about to start here.’
‘No. Just watch out for…’
‘Hey! They’re pulling my pants off. Gotta go! My hate to the Company!’
Tom hung up and spent the next hour laughing about yoga, sushi, and that cool new Western shoe store at the mall. Senior Officer Freddie Denard lowered the receiver and glanced around at the assembled faces in his office.
‘That’s it?!’ Asked a bitter-looking woman in a pantsuit. ‘He just blows it all off and parties with two sisters.’
‘They’re hot sisters!’ Added a man wearing tactical pants, half sitting on the corner of Freddie’s desk. ‘I’ve seen a photo of the girlfriend. Nine plus. Little sister can’t be far…’
‘Shut you, you disgusting breeder pervert!’ The angry butch shouted.
You shut up, obnoxious bitch… Freddie thought. I didn’t tell him about the ISIS sniper-Navy leads either. Not trying to break his heart or send him rogue…
‘The Bude says he runs a backstop on all his hardware. The Guard couldn’t crack in even if he opened the fake files.’ A man in a lab coat added. ‘Liaison says he probably has a separate shadow system too. Something shielded. But, I get the feeling he really doesn’t care anymore. He’s not a contractor or anything, now, is he?’
Freddie thought a second and answered: ‘No. Fully retired. Apparently having a load of fun… But, he is still something. Now. Always. Folks, that was the voice of the greatest agent in Company history…’
‘Maybe so,’ said the woman, ‘but he doesn’t seem to give a damn about the deadly serious things you just talked about. You could have just zapped the revolutionary spam and let him assume the provider did it. What was the purpose of the call?’
Freddie did what the woman found impossible – he smiled. ‘I just wanted to talk to him.’
* A Tom Ironsides Novel currently undergoes editing and rewriting. Stand by the credit cards.
(Picture © by Perrin Lovett).